13 November 2017

Simple Homemade Dumplings from Scratch

My last post (an unconscionable 2 weeks ago) was about comfort food for the winter but I forgot to mention dumplings!

If you have made a casserole or stew you can, with very little time, effort or money, add some delicious, light, fluffy (but comforting) dumplings.

I often make 8 or 9 of these for my real man, a Geordie lad, to eat with his minced beef or chicken stew and every time I make them he looks surprised and says, “nice dumplings!” which is possibly the greatest compliment he has ever given me!

mince-and-dumplings

Sorry about the quality of this picture - it was a bit steamy. 
 

Dumplings


This makes about 12 dumplings, so enough for 1½ Geordies or 3-4 “normal” people.

Have your delicious stew, which you have already made, at a simmer before making the dumplings.

225g/8oz self-raising flour
OR
225g/8oz plain flour + 1 rounded tsp baking powder (about 8g/a scant ½oz)
half a teaspoon of salt
60g/2½oz cold butter or margarine
100ml/3½ fl oz milk

~   Stir together the flour, salt and baking powder (if using).
~   Add the butter or margarine and “rub in” with your fingers until a breadcrumb texture is achieved (see below).
~   Add the milk and mix in, by hand is easiest. Add a little more milk if too dry or a little more flour if too wet – work just enough to form a soft dough.
~  R
oll the dough into walnut sized balls and, as you form them drop, spaced out a bit so they don’t touch, into the simmering stew. 
~   Turn down the heat, cover the pot and cook for about 20 minutes till the dumplings are risen and firm.
~   Take the lid off the pot and allow to steam for a couple more minutes to dry out the tops of the dumplings.

How to Rub In


This is just lightly rubbing the flour and the fat between your fingertips till the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

rubbing-in-method

~   If you use butter cut it up into small pieces first for easier rubbing in, margarine being softer doesn’t need this.
~   Hold your hands a little above the bowl so that the flour and fat stays cool, airy and flaky. Be gentle with it!
~   Shake the bowl occasionally which will cause larger pieces of fat
to be revealed ready for rubbing in.


You can also do this in a food processor using the pulse button, but it hardly seems worth the faff for a few dumplings or whatever. It is quick and easy and more controllable by hand.

scone-recipe-book



This is the very same easy dough that I use to make scones, biscuits, rock buns, doughnuts, cobbles, griddle cakes and more and which I have written about in my book The Secret Life of Scones.






Dumpling Variations


Of course, you can add all sorts of things to your basic dumpling dough, for instance …

~   herbs, spices, garlic, mustard, grated cheese, seeds and so on.
~   maybe sprinkle the cooked dumplings with cheese or breadcrumbs or panko crumbs or a mixture and pop under a hot grill to crisp up.
~   you could even put a nugget of something (a flavoured butter, for instance, or a piece of cheese) into the middle of the dumplings so long as you make sure the dough is completely sealed around it. 



sweet-dumplings


You can also make sweet dumplings, of course, including Grand-Père – a superb Canadian dish of little dumplings simmered in diluted maple syrup. By the time they are cooked the syrup has concentrated back into a glorious sticky goo which coats the dumplings and makes you happy! The recipe is in my above-mentioned book; The Secret Life of Scones.



fried-dumplings
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Leftover Dumplings


The best way I know of re-heating dumplings is to cut them in half and then fry, cut side down, in a little butter or oil till crisp and golden and hot through.  Place on top of your dish, as in this picture of roasted tomato soup with fried dumplings, crisp side up.






Dumpling Eaters


I recently downloaded A Learned Dissertation on Dumpling:Its Dignity, Antiquity and Excellence  which starts with the surprising sentence (well, I didn’t know this) …

dumplings-and-pudding



The dumpling-eaters are a race sprung partly from the old Epicurean and partly from the Peripatetic Sect; they were first brought into Britain by Julius Caesar; and finding it a Land of Plenty, they wisely resolved never to go home again.


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